Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Congratulations to Marilyn and Claudia!

The AQS show in Paducah ,KY was a special celebration. It was the 25th anniversary celebration year and for the first time the Gammill Longarm Machine Quilting Award was a purchase prize award.
The winners are presented with a choice: 1.) Take the $12,000 prize and AQS keeps the quilt which then is added to its museum inventory or 2.) Accept the award ,receive no prize money but keep the quilt.
To some this may be a no-brainer to take the money and have the satisfaction that your quilt has gone to a good home. But to some when the hours and hours put into the winning quilt make it something that cannot be parted with, the choice is very difficult.
This year the Gammill Longarm Machine Quilting award was awarded to a prolific quilting team, Marilyn Badger (St. George, UT ) and Claudia Clark Myers (Duluth, MN) for their exquisite quilt " Greensleeves".
Claudia took two months to design, comb through her extensive stash of silks and brocades and then piece the top. The top was then sent to Marilyn who then painstakingly quilted for 8 hours a day for approximately 6 weeks. Marilyn used 5,000 yards of Superior Metallic on top and 5,000 yds. of The Bottom Line in the bobbin on her Freedom SR.
Greensleeves was then sent back to Claudia who spent two weeks on the binding and beading, adding extra flair (on top of Marilyn's flair).
Marilyn and Claudia have been competitively quilting together for several years, winning many awards for their quilts. Marilyn told me " You dream of making that phone call: ' Hey Honey guess what we won at Paducah!!!!'"
I have seen this quilt up close and the workmanship of both the piecing and the quilting is amazing.Congratulations Marilyn and Claudia. To see more of their beautiful quilts go to

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thread Tug of War

Are you sometimes afraid to adjust the tension system on your machine? Mother Superior gives you permission to adjust your Thread Tension Dial once you understand a few basic principles:
Sewing machines are factory preset to have the top and bottom thread form even stitches when sewing with a 50 or 60 wt. thread. If the top and bottom threads are identical in fiber and weight, adjustments may not be necessary.
However, if we use cotton on top and poly underneath, or metallic on top and poly underneath, or a heavy thread on top and a fine thread underneath, it is necessary to adjust the tension settings. It is perfectly OK to use different thread types and weights on the top and bottom. Relying on a machine's automatic tension system is not enough.

Think of the top and bottom thread as having a tug of war. If the threads are identical and you are sewing on a single layer of fabric, both sides have equal strength and the result will be a draw. The sewing should therefore produce perfectly even stitches with no top thread showing underneath and no bobbin thread showing on top.
However, in the real world, the teams are rarely equal. One team will be stronger or bigger or faster than the other. We sometimes use decorative or sensitive threads on top. We often use different fibers for the top and bottom threads. We also add stabilizer or batting. Sometimes we might use a cotton bobbin thread and other times we use a polyester bobbin thread.
All these factors make it necessary to adjust the tension for each project. By adjusting the top tension either up or down, we are able to add or take away strength on the top thread team to equalize the tug of war battle. Following is a list of things that affect stitch results:
  • 1. Batting. This adds drag on top thread. Cotton batting tends to grab the thread more than poly batting, adding more friction on the thread.
  • 2. Fabric type. Dense fabric puts more stress on the thread.
  • 3. Top thread thickness and type. Metallic is less flexible than cotton or poly. Poly is usually stronger than cotton or rayon. 4. Bobbin thread type. Cotton bobbin thread tends to grab more than a smooth filament polyester. Sometimes grabbing is preferred and sometimes it causes problems. A smooth filament poly thread (not spun poly) in the bobbin will work better with metallic and other sensitive threads because its smooth finish acts almost like a lubricant, sliding nicely with the thread.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dixie Diva Block Exchange

Our local quilt guild (Dixie Quilt Guild in St. George, Utah) recently held their bi-annual quilt show. One friendship group, The Dixie Diva's showed an example of the quilts they made with a block exchange.
The premise for the exchange went as followed:
Each participant provided a focus fabric, along with matching fabrics in a bag marked with their name.
Each month the group selected a block to make, and made 6 samples. The next month the bag was passed to another group member, and another block was selected. By the end of the exchange, each Diva had a pile of blocks all done in their own fabric choice.

It was interesting to see how each Diva chose to set their individual blocks.

Margaret Miller's quilt was done in reds, greens and yellows.

One of our employees, Ricci Lindley used wonderful batik's.

Ricci's quilt was beautifully quilted by April Sproule of Sproule Studios in Fortuna, CA.
April used Rainbows Autumn Leaves by Superior Threads.

Verny Thompson's quilt.

Nedra Sorensen, another employee here at Superior Threads used Earth colored tones.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Titanium Coated Needles

New Product!

Announcing our new top quality industrial grade needles for home machines. Titanium-coated needles have been available for longarm and industrial machines for many years, but these are the first titanium-coated Topstitch style needles made for home machines.
Superior Threads (USA) and Organ Needle Company (Japan) have applied the latest technology of titanium-coated needles to the Topstitch style for home machines. These new titanium-coated needles have an ultra thin coat of titanium nitride layered on the surface to extend their productive life by five to eight times that of regular needles.
Most professionals recommend changing the needle every project or, if you count, every 8 hours. Imagine having a needle that will last 40 to 60 hours. This is equivalent to saving 80% on the cost of needles.

Why Topstitch? We talk a lot about Topstitch needles. We learn from the pros. The majority of professionals and educators we work with use the Topstitch needle for nearly all their sewing. It is simply the best needle style for quilting, embroidery, and most sewing applications.
We usually need only three needles:
  • Topstitch #80/12 for piecing and for sewing with fine threads.
  • Topstitch #90/14 for the majority of threads.
  • Topstitch #100/16 for heavier threads.
  • How about for metallic threads? Topstitch #90/14. Under a microscope, other brands of Topstitch and Metallic needles are almost identical. There is no need for both styles.
* Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob:
Bob will be presenting 3 seminars at Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend 2009. If you are in the Beaver Dam, WI area from April 30th through May 2nd, be sure and stop by and say hello.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Metallic Threads Part 2

We love when you leave comments on our blog. Your questions prompt ideas of ways we can educate more fully in the use of our products.
Karen asked what options she had when trying to select a metallic.
Depending on the project, and your personal needs, here are 4 options you can consider:
Metallics is ideal for embroidery, quilting, applique and serging. It's a strong, durable 40 weight thread that comes in 25 colors. Available on 500 yd, 1,090 yd, 5,500 yd, and 10,000 yard cones.
sample of #009 Military Gold

If you are wondering which color would best match your project, you can order a Color Card for any of our metallics. These are made with the actual thread and only cost $3.00.
Glitter is a mettalized polyester that adds sparkle and dimension to embroidery and quilting. It comes in 24 colors and is washer, dryer, and iron (medium heat) safe.
Glitter is offered in 400 yd. and 3,300 yd spools. You can also order in assortment sets HERE.
Sample of "Plum Crazy"
Halo is a metallized textured polyester blend. It's colorfast and washer safe. Offered in 36 colors on 550 yard spools, Halo is perfect for bobbin work, couching and serging.
sample of "Ruby Slippers"
Razzle Dazzle is a heavier embellishment thread made of polyester and metallic. It's an 8 weight that comes in 25 colors, and is offered on an 88 yard spool.
If you have any other questions or experiences about our metallic threads, please feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What Makes a Good Metallic Thread?

Having previously lived in Japan for 10 years, we appreciate the beautiful metallic stitching on silk Kimono's. When I moved back to the States, and tried working with metallic threads in my sewing projects, I became extremely frustrated. I was working on cotton, not silk, and couldn't even stitch 18 inches without the thread breaking.

This experience prompted us to ask questions of the thread manufactures in Japan. We discovered that they only made quality metallic thread for an Industrial market, wound on very large spools. We desired the same product to be offered in a domestic market, wound on smaller spools.
It took some convincing, but with outstanding results. Superior Threads was created and Metallic thread became our very first product.

Trying to turn real metal into a smooth-sewing thread is not an easy task.
To successfully run metallic, make sure the thread you are using has 3 essential components.
  • Does it have a nylon core? A nylon core is an indication of strength and quality. Combined with "paper" pasting prevents tangling.
  • Is it paper pasted? The best Metallic will have a coat of rice paper pasted over the nylon core, resulting in a stronger thread.
  • Does it have a protective coating? An outer coating will help the thread run better with less friction, and protects against fraying and shredding.

A good metallic thread does not require additional lubricant.

Always use a size 90/14 top stitch needle or Metallic needle and loosen the upper tension.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Was Your Easter As Cute As Mine?

Was your Easter as cute as mine?
We enjoyed the day with our little grand daughter Avilyn, also known as the "Superior Baby".

It's sometimes hard to pull ourselves away from this kissable face and think about work.
Although we do have some Spring time colored threads that work beautifully on baby quilts.
Have you seen SunBurst our sunlight-activated color changing thread?

We love this relatively new product that comes in eight beautiful colors.

When indoors, the thread appears white. Take SunBurst outside in the sunlight, and an amazing transformation takes place. Within seconds you will see white turn to blue, green, magenta, orange, peach, pink, purple or yellow.
Go back inside and the colors change back to white.

We offer SunBurst on 200 yard spools and 3,300 yard cones.
Now that the weather is warming up, this is a great time to experiment with SunBurst. Children love it on their tee shirts and imagine the sparkle SunBurst can add to picnic quilts. There are endless possibilities.
One bride had her wedding gown embroidered with this thread. Indoors, it was white-on-white but when she went outside for the garden reception, the entire dress blossomed into a full rainbow of color.
We love hearing from you and your ideas. Let us know how you have used SunBurst on your projects.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Using More Than One Color of Thread

When designing a quilt, we spend hours hunting for the perfect B's: Background, Block, Border, Binding, and Backing fabric.
Why not do the same with thread?After carefully creating the piece, instead of using a single color of thread to complete the project, think of what a careful selection of multiple threads could do to further enhance your work of art.

When selecting the best thread colors to use, consider the balance between the background fabric and the other fabrics in the quilt.
Rather than bringing them together with a single thread, consider using:
  • tone-on-tone variegated thread in the background.
  • variegated thread in the block. This will create a sharp contrast.
  • a different colored thread in the inner and outer border, making them more distinct.

Many of our threads were designed with this in mind.
Highlights and Rainbows are color-coordinated threads. Rainbows are the variegated colors, and Highlights are the identical type of thread but coordinated in a solid color.

King Tut also provides a wide range of variegated, solid, and tone-on-tone colors.

Used together, two or more coordinated threads will take your quilt from a work of beauty to a beautifully coordinated masterpiece.

With the beautiful weather here in sunny St. George, work is continuing nicely on our addition.

The second story level has walls. This level will be the School of Threadology. Imagine studying and quilting here with the beautiful views out the windows.

The floor was poured last week.

Jon and Todd, our Vice Presidents have been working hard in helping to make decisions on floor space designs. Estimated completion date is July of this year. We might soon announce an August session of the School of Threadology with an internationally known teacher. Watch our newsletter for details.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Shelf Life of Thread

Many people have asked us: "What is the shelf life of thread?". Dr. Bob has researched this question and loves sharing with you the information he has gathered.

A good quality thread today will last much longer than thread which was made 15 or 20 years ago. Even the best quality cotton thread of a generation ago did not have the processing techniques available to us today. If I had Mom's or Grandma's thread on the shelf, would I use it today? Probably not. However, I would not hesitate to use King Tut 50 or 60 years from now. That's how far quality thread has come.
The difference is due to a higher quality of cotton and advancements in spinning, dyeing, and twisting technology.
As for polyester thread, the color may fade over the years with exposure to sunlight, but there is no evidence that the thread deteriorates.
The best way to take care of your thread is to keep it free from dust and sunlight. If you follow these two simple rules, Superior Threads products will remain in good condition and ready to use even 40 or 50 years from now.
You may want to consider your thread collection as part of your family's inheritance, because it probably will last a lot longer than we will!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kapaia Stitchery

While we were visiting Hawaii last week we experienced a daily rainstorm. This left time to stay indoors and work on personal projects. I took along my sewing machine, Todd had his guitar, and Bob had his lap top. I also went to visit one of my favorite quilt stores.
Kapaia Stitchery is one of the largest quilt stores on the island of Kauai. They carry Superior Threads and Bob and I went here 4 years ago to do a Thread Lecture.

They have a very active guild in Kauai and they are not afraid to use bright, tropical colors. Their idea of country colors is VERY different than our mid-western concept.
For anyone traveling to the islands, this would be a great stop.

They have an extensive selection for those who sew their own Aloha Shirts and Mu mu's.
There are many, many bolts of fabric, notions, patterns, and a friendly staff that makes this store enjoyable to visit.

We had to do some creative luggage rearranging after my purchases!

Hula Quilt

Traditional Hawaiian quilt.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pua Miriam Kaona Exhibit

We recently took a short vacation trip with our son, Todd. Because we won't be seeing him for the next two years, we planned a quick trip to Kauai to spend a few quiet days together as a family.
Having previously lived in Hawaii for four years, this trip allowed us to play tourist. It's surprising how differently we viewed the area from this perspective.
We stopped by a church where they were beginning to hang quilts for a small quilt show in Kauai, by invitation from our friend Jeni Hardy. There was a special exhibit of local Hawaiian quiltmaker Pua Miriam Kaona, who passed away three years ago.
Her children sent these very well used and loved quilts from as far away as New York for this exhibit. For the program, Pua's children talked about each specific quilt, their mother, and the stories behind it.

Kahili & Coat of Arms. Owned by Diana (daughter) & Charles Spencer of Hanalei.

Up close details.

We were surprised she used poodle fabric as the backing. I'm sure like everyone else, she used what she had at the time.

Papaya owned by Kenny Kaona (son) of Hanalei

Papaya details. I was so impressed that each leaf was the same, including every little detailed point, and hand appliqued with such tiny stitches.

Poinsettia owned by KeleMomi Kaona Lopez (daughter) of New York.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stocking our Warehouse

Our threads are manufactured in Japan, and then sent via boat and truck to our warehouse in St. George, Utah. We just received a nice shipment.
Once an order is sent from Japan, it takes about 25 days to reach our docks.
When the truck arrived, 4 of our Superior men hurried to unload 15 pallets into our warehouse.
It took 3 hours to unload 1 full semi trailer, and 1/2 of another trailer.
This shipment contained 306 boxes, comprising about 18,000 lbs. of thread.

Once the pallets reach our shipping dock, Yeimy started checking off the entries on the order forms to make sure the items requested had arrived.

The staff really hustles to get everything unloaded as quickly as possible. It took about 3 hours to place each box by the shelves in the warehouse.

It will take another few days to unpack each box and place products on the shelves.

Jon, one of our Vice Presidents, helps with the unloading when necessary. One benefit of working here is you don't need a gym membership to work out. We call it "Superior Gym."
Our staff has to be in good physical shape to lift these heavy boxes.
We work very hard at keeping our inventory current so when you place your orders we have the products you need.